At Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood, days of controversy over a Pride event came to a head Friday morning when parents on both sides of the issue squared off.
Supporters and opponents of a scheduled Pride Month assembly at the school took to the street outside the school, with city and school police stepping in to separate the dueling protests as the intensity ratcheted up between the sides.
Officers were on the scene to “facilitate a peaceful and lawful exercise of constitutional rights,” the Los Angeles Police Department said on Twitter. However, the two sides traded arguments and insults over the officers’ heads.
Later that morning, aerial footage showed that the war of words turned physical, with multiple punches thrown.
After a few moments, other members of the crowd were able to successfully separate the combatants, and police swooped in to maintain order.
The controversy began with an announcement that for Pride month, teachers will read students Mary Hoffman’s book “The Great Big Book of Families,” which Goodreads called “a celebration of the diverse fabric of kith and kin the world over.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District agreed, telling KTLA last month that the event is intended to highlight diversity.
Some parents, however, claim the discussion of same-sex relationships and other topics during the Gay Pride and Rainbow Day assembly is not appropriate for children and should be taught at home by parents, not at school by teachers.
An Instagram account called Saticoy Elementary Parents called the subject matter “an inappropriate topic for our kids!” when promoting their protest.
They held signs alleging that the supporters were “sexualizing” and grooming children for pedophiles.
Many supporters of the assembly held up pro-LGBTQ messages and flags, and others showed up to support the school and its attempts to teach diversity.
Not all were purely supportive, however. One supporter interrupted KTLA’s interview with an opponent to accuse reporter Eric Spillman of “platforming fascists and bigots.”
The heated rhetoric may have led to a possible hate crime at the school.
Late last month, a Pride flag was discovered to have been burned at the school.
Police are investigating the incident as a “vandalism hate crime,” but no suspects have been identified.
Protesters against the assembly have denied responsibility for the flag burning.